My Annual “End of Year Surge”

Every year at this time I seem to put together some really good scores, prompting a bunch of snarky comments from the likes of Harry and Cal who make fun of the fact I can’t seem to go on a similar run when it actually means something.

2009 has been a tough year on the golf course for yours truly – my handicap index has gone from a 1.7 at the beginning of the year to a 4.8 at the beginning of the weekend. From the tips at St. Catharines, that gives me a six handicap, almost unfathomable to me.

I’ve had a hell of a time even breaking 80 this year and my last round in the 70s was in the fifth leg of the Niagara Men’s Tour at LochNess Links over a month ago.

However, my traditional ‘Fall Season Surge’ has taken over and I was able to put together one of the best scoring weekends of the year.

On Saturday, I played in a great group with Cal, Harry and Dr. Greg, who comes back to St. Catharines to play a few times a year. I continued my new strategy of hitting driver off the short par four 1st hole and made a routine par.

On the second tee, Harry, who bogeyed the first hole, started some trash talk about my high handicap and said we should play a match today. He even agreed to give me three shots (he’s down to a 3 handicap versus my 6), after which I said I’d destroy him with shots.

So we decided to play a match for the huge sum of $5.00. After I parred the first eight holes in succession and bogeyed the ninth, I found myself leading 7 UP AFTER NINE HOLES!

Harry, unlike his recent fine play, was having a pretty tough day on the course but foolishly asked if he could press the bet. I quickly accepted and while I made a few really big mistakes on the back nine (double bogeyed the 12th and 17th holes), I still ended up prevailing 3&2 on the back side to win the whole bet.

For the round, after shooting 37 (+1) on the front, I was stumbling on the back – I was +7 on the 18th tee and I figured I’d make my normal bogey five on the last hole to shoot yet another 80. But I got those thoughts out of my head, crushed a drive down the middle then nailed my approach shot to about 6 inches, barely missing an eagle. The birdie gave me a round of 78 (+6), my first sub-80s round in five weeks! Wicked!

I followed that up on Sunday with an even better round. Playing with Cal, Joe B and Thane, we all started very slowly – the group didn’t make its first par UNTIL THE FOURTH HOLE!

I started bogey/bogey/bogey but parred in on the front for a 39 (+3). I bogeyed the 11th and 13th holes but BIRDIED the 10th, 14th and 16th holes to shoot a tremendous one under 35 on the back, finishing the round with a 74 (+2), my second-best score of the year.

I’m just trying to keep the ball in play off the tee, shortening my swing with my driver and my irons and it seems to be working. I’m also really concentrating on getting through to the left side on the follow-through and hitting down through the ball at impact. It also helps that my putting has gotten much better, as I’m standing much more upright than normal and the line seems to be easier to read with that posture change.

The autumn here in Southern Ontario has been excellent weather-wise so far – in fact, our weather right now is better than we’ve had the entire summer. The golf course is in fantastic condition too so I expect to play right through October or until the club aerates the greens.

Hopefully the renaissance with my game continues, as I’d love to put together one round this year at par or better.

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